Lawrence Wright quotes Billy Graham as saying in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Looming Tower.
Many today would like to substitute 'Islam' for 'Communism' in this spiritual war which they see manifest on earth as a clash of civilisations. I read Wright's best seller while touring the USA recently to show the new film With God on our Side in various Christian universities and churches.
Wright's book mirrors the film in that both show what happens when people believe God is on their side. Whether the perpetrators are nominally Christian, Muslim or Jewish, the belief that God is on their side and not that of their enemies leads inexorably to the toleration and then justification of terrorism, genocide and war crimes against humanity. In each case their respective sacred scriptures are twisted or ignored to justify indiscriminate and wanton killingin the name of their god.
The New York Times Book Review sums up why this tragedy-thriller is a 'must' read
“This is the story of how a small group of men, with a frightening mix of delusion and calculation, rose from a tormented civilization to mount a catastrophic assault on the world’s mightiest power, and how another group of men and women, convinced that such an attack was on the way, tried desperately to stop it.
“What a story it is. And what a riveting tale Lawrence Wright fashions in this marvelous book. The Looming Tower is not just a detailed, heart-stopping account of the events leading up to 9/11, written with style and verve and carried along by villains and heros that only a crime novelist could dream up. It’s an education too—though you’d never know it—a thoughtful examination of the world that produced the men who brought us 9/11, and of their progeny who bedevil us today. The portrait of John O’Neill, the driven, demon-ridden F.B.I. agent who worked so frantically to stop Osama bin Laden, only to perish in the attack on the World Trade Center, is worth the price of the book alone. The Looming Tower is a thriller. And it’s a tragedy too…
“Wright, a staff writer for The New Yorker, has put his boots on the ground in the hard places, conducted the interviews and done the sleuthing… He has unearthed an astonishing amount of detail about Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawhiri, Mullah Muhammad Omar and all the rest of them. They come alive… O’Neill and others like him were in a race with Al Qaeda, and although we know how the race ended, it’s astonishing—and heartbreaking—to learn how close it was… The fateful struggle between the C.I.A. and F.B.I. in the months leading up to the attacks has been outlined before, but never in such detail… Great stuff.” - Dexter Filkins, Baghdad correspondent
See also Jason Burke's Guardian review